Sangam is the Sanskrit word for confluence. The point of confluence is a sacred place for Hindus. Triveni Sangam is the confluence of three rivers. The Triveni Sangam in Prayag (Allahabad) is the confluence of two physical rivers Ganga, Yamuna, and the invisible or mythic Saraswati River. Devout Hindus from all over India come to this sacred pilgrimage point to offer prayers and take a dip in the holy waters.
The arrival of annual visitors — the Siberian gulls — at the Triveni Sangam in Allahabad heralds the onset of winters. With the onset of winters, these Siberian birds spread their wings to take flight of thousands of kilometres all the way from Siberia via Afghanistan, Mongolia and Tibet crossing high Himalayan mountains.
Various species of Siberian birds migrate to wetlands in India during the winter season when their home grounds near the Arctic zone freeze. These migratory birds starts arriving here in October and fly back by March.
The whiteness of the birds dazzles on the waters of Ganga and Yamuna. These Siberian birds present a mesmerizing view at the Sangam throughout the winter season, as if waiting to take holy dip along with the pilgrims.
These birds map their route of arrival like a magnetic compass needle and would follow the exact flyway on their way back home. Migrating birds navigate using celestial cues from the sun and stars, the earth’s magnetic field, and probably also mental maps.
A surprising behaviour has been noticed in migration of these birds. The young ones guide thousands of migratory birds to the holy city of Allahabad every year. But when they fly back, the female birds lead the entire flock. Nothing concrete has yet been discovered what guides the young ones to such far off places even when it is their first trip to an unknown place.
The Triveni Sangam has also attained international importance as a breeding ground and an alternate habitat for many migratory birds.